Fantasy Premier League

How to invest in Newcastle's backline in Fantasy

4 Dec 2023

The Scout assesses the best Magpies picks at the back for their favourable schedule

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Managers are rushing to Newcastle United’s backline ahead of Tuesday’s 18:00 GMT deadline in Gameweek 15 of Fantasy Premier League.

The Magpies’ 1-0 win over Manchester United on Saturday evening earned them their sixth clean sheet of the season, joint-top with Arsenal as the best defence.

Their back-up stopper Martin Dubravka (£4.0m) has emerged as the top goalkeeper target after Nick Pope (£5.5m) sustained a shoulder injury, and is the second most-bought player ahead of tonight's deadline.

Kieran Trippier (£7.0m) and Jamaal Lascelles (£4.2m), meanwhile, are among the five most-bought defenders.

Newcastle’s prospects for more clean sheets are lifted by a very encouraging run of upcoming opponents.

According to the Fixture Difficulty Ratings (FDR), four of their next five matches, including their visit to Everton on Thursday evening, score only two.

Newcastle’s next five fixtures
15 EVE (A) 2
16 TOT (A) 3
17 FUL (H) 2
18 LUT (A) 2
19 NFO (H) 2

Trippier has been Newcastle’s standout performer at the back by some margin.

In addition to his six clean sheets, he has already supplied seven assists, only two fewer than his total of nine from the previous season. 

He has also collected 18 bonus points, more than any other player in Fantasy.

If Pope is sidelined, as expected, his displays show why Dubravka could be a budget gem.

The Newcastle stopper sits just three points off the top of the goalkeeper standings and has outscored all their defenders apart from Trippier.

Lascelles, meanwhile, is the seventh top-scoring defender in Fantasy since replacing the injured Sven Botman (£4.5m) in Gameweek 7.

He has bettered his fellow centre-back Fabian Schar (£5.3m) by 35 points to 34 in that period to underline his budget-friendly appeal.

Newcastle’s top-scoring defensive assets this season
Player Points Goals Assists Clean sheets Bonus
Trippier 82 0 7 6 18
Pope 56 0 0 6 1
Schar 52 0 1 6 4
Burn 37 1 0 4 0
Lascelles 36 1 0 4 3

Despite some early-season reservations over rotation around European matches, Trippier has started all of the opening 14 Gameweeks, along with Pope and Schar.

The right-back is averaging 5.9 points per match (ppm), up from his 5.2ppm last season, when he was the top-scoring defender in Fantasy.

Lascelles fares well in comparison, matching Pope’s 4.0 ppm. Indeed, the centre-back has averaged 4.4 points per start this season, identical to Arsenal’s William Saliba (£5.5m).

Tino Livramento (£4.3m) is another player who could now profit from injuries. The left-back has started each of the last two Gameweeks due to Dan Burn’s (£4.4m) absence, collecting nine points.

Points per match compared
Player Starts Sub apps Points per match Points per start
Trippier 14 0 5.9 5.9
Pope 14 0 4.0 4.0
Schar 14 0 3.7 3.7
Burn 11 0 3.4 3.4
Lascelles 8 1 4.0 4.4
Livramento 2 6 1.6 4.5
Who’s most likely to get attacking returns?

Trippier’s ability to consistently deliver assists is born out by the underlining statistics.

His 41 key passes is more than any other player in Fantasy in the opening 14 Gameweeks, while his 10 big chances created are second only to the 13 of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (£13.1m).

Although Schar’s 14 shots lead the way here, only seven of those were from inside the box.

Indeed, it is Lascelles’ close-range threat that catches the eye. He has produced six shots in the box to the seven of Schar, despite playing over 500 minutes fewer.

Livramento, meanwhile, has yet to take a shot this season and has supplied just three key passes.

Newcastle's attacking stats
Player Shots Shots in box Key passes
Schar 14 7 2
Lascelles 6 6 2
Trippier 5 0 41
Livramento 0 0 3
So, who is the best pick?

Trippier is clearly the best option, with his huge potential for assists, clean sheets and bonus very likely to ensure he keeps delivering major hauls.

Yet many will continue to baulk at the £7.0m price tag that comes accompanied with the right-back, particularly with Dubravka, Lascelles and Livramento all under £4.5m.

Dubravka and Lascelles look the best budget options, and the appeal of either player should be determined by the state of a manager's squad.

While the latter’s goal threat makes him a great option for managers unwilling to spend a transfer on a goalkeeper, Dubravka could now emerge as a very popular replacement for West Ham United’s Alphonse Areola (£4.3m).

The Hammers’ No 1 is the most-selected ‘keeper in Fantasy but has rewarded his 37 per cent owners with a single clean sheet all season.

Either Dubravka or Lascelles could also appeal to Trippier’s 50 per cent ownership, allowing them to take advantage of a strong double-up tactic in a season where clean sheets have been hard to come by for most other sides.

Also in this series

Part 1: The Scout’s FPL Gameweek 15 Ones to watch
Part 2: The FPL Pod: What to do with Watkins?
Part 4: Scout Selection: Best FPL team for Gameweek 15

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